Should the Yankees take a flier on veteran starting pitcher Cole Hamels?

New York Yankees, Cole Hamels

The New York Yankees need starting pitching whether general manager Brian Cashman likes it or not. With three starters hitting free agency this off-season, the rotation has been left thin, and relying on younger players who only pitched a small sample size during an abbreviated 2020 season is not a recipe for success.

Cashman is going to have to find supplemental options and not just walk in the park pitchers with ERA’s above 4.00. He needs to find quality, but at a cost-efficient rate.

There are solid options the Yankees can consider in free agency, but Cashman wants to wait as long as possible to make moves. He prefers to settle the DJ LeMahieu contract negotiations before spending any more money since if he waits, it will open up the door for higher quality starters like Trevor Bauer. Ownership has made it very clear they want to stay under the $210 million luxury tax threshold this season, so the Yankees don’t have the same financial flexibility they usually do.

I stated above, starting pitching remains a serious problem and one that must be fixed sooner rather than later.

Here is one veteran starter the New York Yankees should consider:

Cole Hamels is a player that intrigues me, despite being nearly 37 years old. He has been in the MLB since 2006, spending time with the Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers, Chicago Cubs, and Atlanta Braves. Over the course of his career, he has been extremely effective, and considering he’s a lefty pitcher, he could add value with James Paxton leaving this off-season.

In 2020, Hamels picked up an injury that allowed him to pitch only 3.1 innings. Considering this sample size doesn’t justify his value, so let’s take a look at his 2019 statistics.

In 2019, James pitched for the Cubs, earning 141.2 innings. He won seven contests, posting a 3.81 ERA, 47.3% ground ball rate, 9.08 strikeouts per nine, and 1.39 WHIP.

He’s not too far removed from a quality season, and while his innings per year has dipped a little bit with age, he can still be a serviceable player on a cheap contract. Taking a look at his pitch velocity, he utilizes his fastball, cutter, curveball, and change-up predominantly. His fastball velocity dropped to 88.2 mph last year, but it was simply due to his injury. Before that, his fastball hovered in the 91-92 mph range, with the rest of his pitches staying quite consistent compared to the past.

The Yankees prefer strong-armed throwers who can reach the mid to upper 90s with their fastball, and Hamel’s simply isn’t that guy. He’s more location-based and relies on his curve and change-up to dominate hitters. He would be a low priced option to consider for the Yankees, and if he is on his game, it will undoubtedly have a positive effect on 2021.